On Friday, CSKA and SKA met on the ice after more than six months, and the Muscovites were stronger – 3: 1. Prior to that, the last time the teams met at the finish of the last KHL regular championship, the victory was celebrated by the St. Petersburg army team (4: 1). CSKA opened the scoring thanks to a goal from defender Mikhail Naumenkov. Soon the striker of Petersburgers Kirill Marchenko restored the balance. But the double of the forward Konstantin Okulov brought victory to the red and blue, who were ahead of SKA by four points in the table and are leading in the Western Conference.
SKA continues to play without its head coach Valery Bragin, who has been isolated from the team for almost a month now, first due to coronavirus, and then due to other medical problems. The club does not say the exact diagnosis, but, according to sources, a 64-year-old ARVI specialist. Once again, the team was led from the bench by the vice-president of the club and the head of the SKA headquarters Roman Rotenberg.
“Over the past month, many have been ill with us – both among the hockey players and among the entire coaching staff, so we are used to it,” SKA striker Kirill Marchenko told Izvestia. – But Valery Nikolaevich remotely gives us instructions and tips. And during matches, even in his absence, the headquarters works well, so we try to achieve results. I don’t want to blame today’s defeat on losses.
In addition to the headquarters, over the past month, most of the main team have been ill with SKA. Because of this, some matches had to be played by young people who showed themselves well enough. Therefore, some young pupils, for example, 18-year-old striker Marat Khusnutdinov, were in the application for the match with CSKA, to which most adults recovered.
However, Marat Khusnutdinov did not go out on the ice so often on Friday. But the 20-year-old striker Kirill Marchenko continues to gain a foothold in the first link. In winter, under the leadership of Valery Bragin, he became the silver medalist of the youth world championship, and after that he was regularly put on the SKA team along with other heroes of that MFM – forwards Ivan Morozov and Vasily Podkolzin.
Their three was very productive, but the beginning of this season was not set for them, so now the guys are playing separately. The luckiest of all was Kirill Marchenko, who in September was placed in the first link to Linden Vey and Vladimir Tkachev. Since the latter is now injured, SKA newcomer Yakov Trenin, who just recently signed a lease contract from the NHL Nashville Predators club, was moved to them.
Kirill Marchenko himself played only his second match in the KHL in almost a month. Before that, he could not go on the ice for health reasons. To get in shape, at the beginning of the week he even had to play in the MHL (Youth Hockey League).
– The difference in speed is noticeable, but I’m trying to quickly return to my best shape and help SKA in the KHL, – said Marchenko. – It is a pity that today we did not manage to defeat CSKA, but I am sure that we will continue to perform much better.
The majority decides
It was Kirill Marchenko who scored the only goal against CSKA. He equalized the majority in the 17th minute. Eight minutes earlier the first goal was scored by the Moscow army player Mikhail Naumenkov. But then CSKA, which survived its losses due to covid back in the summer preseason, gave the opponent a shot at the expense of two more successful draws. At the end of the second and the beginning of the third period, the combinations of Yegor Rykov – Maxim Shalunov – Konstantin Okulov led to two goals in the majority.
“The quality of the game in the first army season was personally very good in my eyes,” a member of the CSKA Supervisory Board, Russian hockey player Sergei Fedorov shared his opinion with Izvestia. – I think the outcome was predetermined by the fact that one team used their chances, and the other did not. Both CSKA and SKA had enough of them. But with the implementation of the owners of the site, things were better, so the victory was theirs.
Rivals and competitors
After the victory over SKA, the Moscow army team broke away from their pursuers in the West. They are ahead of the second-going Petersburgers by four points, while playing one game less. CSKA will play the next match on Sunday. It will be a Moscow derby with Dynamo, which will also take place at the home arena of the army team. SKA on Monday will host Vityaz Podolsk in St. Petersburg, which on Thursday lost at home to Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg (3: 4).
“Our mistakes and incorrect play in their own zone gave Avtomobilist back to the match,” Vityaz striker Fyodor Malykhin told Izvestia. – With such an opponent and against such strong players, you have to play very carefully, with maximum composure and concentration. So our technical and tactical mistakes led to conceded goals, and it was already hard to recoup from 1: 4. We still lack stability to spend all three periods at the same good level, without failures.
Avtomobilist striker Brooke Masek became the hero of that meeting. He scored a goal and made an assist, and some of his tricks on the ice were compared with what his teammate, striker Pavel Datsyuk does. He was also injured during the match.
– I just saw free ice, that the transfer will go to a point on a nickle. Lesha Vasilevsky was there on time and with an excellent throw brought us ahead, – Masek commented on his scoring pass to Izvestia. – Yes, our majority is very successful, but we do not stop and continue to train and improve the game in unequal squads. As for my damage, then I accidentally hurt myself.
According to Aleksey Vasilevsky, his goal from Masek’s pass became one of the key moments in the game. The Avtomobilist defender himself in this episode managed to successfully outplay the leader of the Vityaz Alexander Semin.
– I was hoping that Brooks’ transmission would reach me, that he would see me and give me a pass, that’s how it happened – we scored a very important goal, ”Alexey Vasilevsky told Izvestia. – He’s great, thanks to him. How did you get rid of Semin’s care? Probably instinct, I saw that the penny was open, connected, got a pass, threw, scored. The coach tells us that the defenders, when possible, connect forward, and thanks again to Masek for a good pass.
Avtomobilist is now the leaders of the Eastern Conference and in the overall table of the regular season scored the same number of points with CSKA, which is still higher in additional indicators.